Community group secures new conditions for WtE plant

Community group Zero Waste Victoria has secured better air quality, waste management, monitoring and reporting for Victorians at a future waste-to-energy facility in Laverton North.

Zero Waste Victoria entered a legal case into the EPA’s approval of a waste-to-energy plant in Laverton North that resulted in a settled appeal.

The community group settled its appeal on June 17 in the Victorian Civil & Administrative Tribunal (VCAT) after the EPA and Recovered Energy Australia agreed to strict new conditions attached to the Works Approval.

Kirsty Bishop-Fox, Zero Waste Victoria President said the settlement means that if the waste-to-energy facility goes ahead, the strict new conditions will enable greater transparency and safeguards against pollution from the project for Laverton and surrounding communities.

The nine new conditions which Recovered Energy Australia will need to comply with include a number of requirements such as only accepting waste which would otherwise be disposed of to landfill, continuous emissions monitoring of volatile organic carbon and avoidance of locking councils into contractual obligations to supply fixed amounts of waste and disincentive recycling.

“We do not believe that waste-to-energy plants are the answer to our enormous waste problem. Our governments must have a greater focus on waste reduction, reuse, repurpose and repair, as well as an emphasis on local recycling and composting initiatives,” Bishop-Fox said in a statement.

“If these projects do go ahead, it must not be at the expense of the local community and environment.”

Nick Witherow, Principal Lawyer from Environmental Justice Australia who represented the group in court, said communities where waste-to-energy facilities are being proposed are entitled to know what pollution they are being exposed to.

“Waste-to-energy projects are new to Victoria. This settlement shows the important role that community groups have to strengthen approval conditions and ensure the best possible outcomes for community health and the environment,” he said in a statement.

Carolina Aguirre, Zero Waste Victoria member, community psychologist and Laverton resident, said it is gratifying to know that the air in Laverton and surrounding environment will not be further impacted by pollution and waste thanks to the efforts of Zero Waste Victoria and Environmental Justice Australia.

The case was filed with VCAT on 11 February 2020 and the settlement that was reached on June 17 will now close the case, which was originally scheduled for a 5 day hearing in August.

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